12.31.2011

Happy New Year!







Wishing all of you wonderful readers, friends and family who read my little blog
the happiest of years ahead, filled with good health and love!

Thank you for making 2011 so much fun here!
I appreciate you so very much!

xox,

12.29.2011

Best of 2011

It's hard to believe that another year is coming to an end, isn't it??

We might not have crossed all our 2011 goals off the never-ending list, but looking back, we definitely made some big changes around our new(est) home
{dubbed the Peach Pit when we first moved in because every surface was in that color family - including the painted brick in the fireplace and even the bologna-colored kitchen countertops!}

If 2010 was the Year of Painting,
2011 around here was definitely the Year of Settling In!
Here's a little roundup of some of our favorite DIY projects from the past twelve months.

Kitchen Refresh
Painting our kitchen cabinets made a world of difference in the Peach Pit, and even made the countertops more palatable.


The "Treehouse" 
aka our mudroom, is a little utility room in the garage that keeps my sanity with three kids, a very large dog, recycling, and all the gear that comes with a snowy New England winter.


The Garage Stairs
As part of the mudroom project, I painted the stairs that lead from the garage up to the mudroom and into the house.  So much better to come home to these cheerful steps instead of the grubby unfinished version!


The Foyer
Between refinishing of the stairs in our foyer and and adding board and batten, we pulled this room right out of 1985.  Next up:  adding a sisal or jute runner, and eventually installing a hardwood floor.

This and That
In between some of the big projects I also had a little fun in my lady cave (also known as my kitchen table).  Here's a sampling of some popular crafty posts from this past year.


Destinations Sign

Shell Mirror

Jewelry Board

Postcard Display Board

Wine Cork Herb Markers


All this recapping has me thinking about goals for 2012 - what about you?  Any big projects on the horizon?

Thanks for being a part of the adventures over here this year - sharing projects with you has made them so much more fun!

I'm linking up to these great blogs - check them out!
Saved by Suzy



Wishing you a happy and healthy year ahead!!

12.27.2011

Mangia.....Tuesday??.......Pre-New Year Resolution Desserts!

Hello there - how was your Christmas??  I hope you had a great time with family and friends.


Welcome to Mangia Mondays, or in this case, Mangia Tuesday!

Mangia Mondays is a weekly blog hop I co-host with sweet and sassy Kristin of Delightfully Dowling - a place to link up recipes, restaurant reviews, fun kitchen gadget discoveries, yada yada yada!  Please join the fun!

Before you start 2012 with healthy resolutions, here are a couple more sweets for end-of-the-year revelry!  These rich and satisfying chocolate desserts would be fabulous for New Year's Eve - and then you can wake up and have a healthy vegetable smoothie on January One.

First up......Ice Box Cake!

Note:  this cake needs to be refrigerated for about 12 hours. 

I discovered this recipe on the first food blog I started reading on a regular basis,  Smitten Kitchen.  The recipe is so simple, really - all you need is TIME as the cake needs to be chilled overnight or from morning until night.  It almost feels like cheating - the recipe calls for making whipped cream and then layering it with store-bought chocolate wafers.  The whipped cream magically turns those wafers into soft layers of whispy chocolate cake overnight.   You can customize it with candy toppings if you'd like to jazz it up for a special occasion, but I think the beauty of this dessert is it's simplicity.  This is the basic recipe and you can do what you wish with toppings {chocolate shavings?  a dusting of cocoa?  chopped candy bars??  a few Lipitor perhaps??   :)

3 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectionary (powdered) sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 9-oz. packages chocolate wafers (I like Famous Chocolate Wafers in the yellow box)

forgive me for the lack of photos, they are lost on my computer somewhere.

Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.

Lay seven chocolate wafers on a flat cake plate (six side-by-side in a cirle and one in the center.  The center wafer will not be touching the others but that's okay.)

Spread about half a cup of whipped cream on and between the wafers.  This is a messy and cumbersome process but oh so worth the whipped cream all over you!  Continue in this manner with layers of wafers and whipped cream, ending with whipped cream.

{The Smitten Kitchen recipe calls for 11 layers but I always seem to have broken wafers that my husband and children use to "test" the whipped cream with.  This time around we only made it to seven layers and it was just fine!}

Cover and refrigerate for as long as possible, preferably overnight.

..............................................................

If that's not enough chocolate for you, how about this one?
{Please note, my lame purple point-and-shoot photos do NOT do this dessert justice.  Trust me, it's good stuff!}

This is a recipe that I've adapted from Bon Appetit - an oldie but goody in my recipe files.  It's a crowd pleaser for sure!


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups half and half
1/3 cup brandy (can be omitted)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 loaf country white bread
2 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Grease 8x8" baking dish with butter and set aside.

Simmer half & half and brandy in heavy saucepan for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 1 cup chocolate chips.

Let stand one minute, then whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Whisk in brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.  Let stand until cool, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice crust off loaf of bread and cut into 1" cubes to yield about 6 cups.

Whisk in eggs, vanilla and salt.  Stir in bread and let stand for a half hour.

Spread half of bread and chocolate mixture in prepared dish.  Sprinkle with 1 cup chocolate chips.

Cover with remaining bread/chocolate mixture.    {Can be made 1 day ahead - cover and chill.}

Preheat oven to 350.  Bake uncovered until puffed and firm in center, about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven; let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Beat whipping cream, powdered sugar and cinnamon until soft peaks form.  Spoon pudding into bowls and top with whipped cream.

...................................................................

Alright my friends, do you have any recipes to share or are you too wiped out from holiday festivies??  If you're so inclined, link up below or share in comments!!

Wishing you a wonderful last week of 2011!




12.21.2011

A Better Late Than Never Christmas House Tour

Hey there - how are you surviving this crazy week before Christmas??
I hope you are finding time to be merry amidst shopping, wrapping, baking, and cooking!

Take a break from your running around and come on in for a little Christmas cheer!
I didn't get around to decorating every last nook and cranny, but I don't think you'll mind, right?


Bruschi just got a Christmas grooming and is so nice and clean.  Come on pup, you can come in too!

We hung our wreath right on our whale's tail door knocker.

Our Christmas tree is in the living room this year.  I love to see it's twinkling lights from the street through the big picture window, and also from the foyer, the den, and the kitchen.

I used all our white, silver and gold decorations this year......


.....along with lots of glittery pinecones and coffee filter "snowballs".

All the munchkins in the family get colorfully wrapped presents though!

Is there anything so beautiful as a Christmas tree at night, bouncing light off everything around it?

Here's the mantle in our family room that I shared a couple of weeks ago...I ran a string of lights under the fresh greens so it feels Christmasy in there, too.  The snowflakes are cotton balls threaded and hung from the ceiling.

I think receiving Christmas cards might be one of my favorite parts of the season...reconnecting with friends and family, and seeing kids grow year to year.  
How cute are these two monkeys, my little niece and nephew??

I always find a spot to hang cards our own Christmas cards that we have sent through the years.

 Could someone please tell me how these babies......

...grew overnight?!?

This year each of my kids has a little tree in their room too,  where all our colorful ornaments found homes.  We all love this new tradition!


Seanie's "tree skirt" is a pile of books because there are so many ornaments on the tree that it kept toppling over.  He loves to put the lights on when he reads at night before bed!

One last room to share.

A room for our guests on Christmas Eve.

We've really decked this one out!

Wait 'til you see it.

It's a beauty!

........

....

.........

Really special!.....

..........

Are you ready?
NICE!  

Yep, that's my 13 year old's room.
He's a good boy and works hard in school, and I have learned to pick my battles,
so normally I deal with his propensity towards messiness by closing the door :)

However, when our guests stay in here in just a few short days it will hopefully have gone through quite the transformation!!

Just wanted to share a little shot of real life with you, in case you are a feeling a bit overwhelmed.  
See?  You're not alone!
The older I get, the better I am at letting go of "perfect" and embracing where we are in our life.
Someday I'll have a guest room that is neat and tidy all the time because no one will live in there, and I'll be wishing my kids were 13, 11 and 9 again!!!  So for today I'm going to remind myself to live in and LOVE the present - the pretty and the messy parts of it - because they are all signs of the full and blessed life we have in this house.

I hope you are able to live in and love these moments of Christmastime too, even if they are chaotic, disorderly, and not always color-coordinated and picture-perfect!

Wishing you and yours
a merry merry merry
joyful and blessed 
Christmas
filled with love and laughter!

I'm joining, better late than never, Rene at Cottage & Vine!
Cottage & Vine

12.18.2011

Mangia Mondays:: Christmas Breakfast Ideas!


Welcome to Mangia Mondays, the foodie blog hop that I co-host with Kristin of Delightfully Dowling....
who just announced she is baking a little bun in the oven!!
Congrats Kristin and Mr. Delightfully Dowling!!  I am so excited for you on your little "cupcake"!

We are thrilled to bits that so many of you participate each week.  If you are planning what to make for breakfast on Christmas morning, look no further than these recipes that were linked up last week!

Country Ham Stuffed Biscuits from Crystal, aka Mrs. Happy Homemaker - how good do these look???

This Potato Tart with Bacon, Gruyere and Rosemary from Heather from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks would make a delicious and impressive Christmas morning breakfast, wouldn't it?  Did I mention all that goodness is baked in a pie crust???

How about homemade donuts for your kiddos (or kids-at-heart?!)  Thank you to Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes for sharing these Funfetti Cake Donuts that are glazed, frosted and sprinkled!  My kids would be in heaven if I made these for Christmas morning!

If you are looking for a healthy choice to offer Christmas morning, how about yogurt, fruit and this delicious homemade Soaked Granola Cereal from Paula and Travis at Whole Intentions?  I eat granola over yogurt almost every morning and have always wanted to make my own!  This would also make a lovely Christmas gift.

Last Christmas morning I made these Gentlemen's Casseroles from Southern Living and everyone enjoyed them.  My kids are big fans of puff pastry and the cheese sauce (that you can make ahead - and you can also substitute shredded cheddar for the gruyere) made my hubby, Mark, swoon.  I highly recommend them for a Christmas-morning-worthy breakfast!

One more thing, not breakfast-related - did you happen to see my Pretzel Fudge recipe I posted last week?

It didn't last long in my house, but Mark wants you all to know that you should eat it up right quick because, although I told you that fudge stays fresh for 2-3 weeks if refrigerated, the pretzels do soften up and you lose that wonderful crunch that makes the sweet fudge and the salty pretzels so tantalizing!

If you've been featured this week you're welcome to grab a "featured" button!


Link up or post in comments a recipe, restaurant recommendation, or kitchen advice!

Happy Christmas week my lovelies!